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Why the need for Purgatory if Jesus already paid our sins for us?

Does that not disprove the reality of the Purgatory?


This article was published in The Public Forum of The M+G+R Foundation in August 2007. A question posed by one of our readers and the response given by Miguel de Portugal - a question that can be summarized as "Why is Purgatory still necessary if Jesus already paid the rescue for our sins? - We are reissuing it now as a stand-alone document for its value in explaining the theological reason for Purgatory, grounded on the Holy Scriptures, after our previous document, The Reality of The Purgatory as reflected in The Old and New Testaments.


FROM OUR FILES:  August 11th, 2007

From LR @ US

My girl friend and I have been in recent discussion about purgatory. I always explain to her that we both agree a soul must be pure before entering heaven. There are verses that show purgatory is a process and takes time because "... until Jesus pleads my case," and in the Bible it explains sins can be forgiven in the next age Matt 12:32. There are verses that explain purgatory.

My understanding is purgatory is a place that people go to because they did not fulfill the will of God here on Earth and must do their penance. As a result purgatory is needed to get rid of all the vices that hold us from loving God and this process takes time.

My question is that she always states that with the existence of purgatory it proves that Jesus' sacrifice is not enough. Further, in the Old Testament it talks about Sheol and in the New Testament Hades. She states that Jesus is the new covenant and the old covenant is Sheol (similarity to Purgatory). Thus Jesus did away with Sheol because of Him being the new covenant. Further, she states that Purgatory seems to be a HUGE salvation issue and people should know about it, yet it is not stated as bluntly as other aspects in the Bible, how can I show her it is well documented (Using the Bible of course, sola scriptura, though this belief is contradictory in itself when analyzing Scripture)?

I want to be able to answer her questions to the fullest (even though my responses make sense to me), but how do I keep the discussion simple while answering these "conundrums" to her? Could you please define purgatory and penance and answer how purgatory is still necessary even with faith and Jesus' Death and Resurrection.

Further, how the Old Testament references to Sheol are still relevant to Christians that believe the Old Testament (Old Covenant) does not apply to them.

Thank you for your time,


A response

Thank you for the opportunity. Without getting bogged down with words a la Vatican let us go directly where Jesus illustrates the reality of Purgatory:

56 You hypocrites, you know how to discern the face of the heaven and of the earth: but how is it that you do not discern this time? 57 And why even of yourselves, do you not judge that which is just? 58 And when thou goest with thy adversary to the prince, whilst thou art in the way, endeavour to be delivered from him: lest perhaps he draw thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exacter, and the exacter cast thee into prison. 59 I say to thee, thou shalt not go out thence, until thou pay the very last mite. [Luke 12]

One cannot present oneself before God "....until thou pay the very last mite", which is after the payment has been made through prayer and penance. (1) Jesus was obviously not talking about money.

There are two great misconceptions about Divine Law and Justice.

First - Jesus died to give us an opportunity to save our souls. It is not an automatic process, i.e. "He died for my sins, I sign up in the local Christian Church and, presto!, I am saved." Unfortunately far too many Christians believe that it is this way.

Secondly - The forgiveness of sins do not, in any way, mean that we are "scott free". When a sin is forgiven, the eternal consequences of said sin are avoided, however, restitution must be made for the damages done. The restitution is adjusted by what we call "Mercy coupons" or "Mercy discounts" dispensed by God (2). Obviously a woman who has had an abortion due to recreational sex is going to "pay more" (even after the mortal sin is forgiven) than a woman who fell prey to her boyfriend's empty promises whose debt, in turn, is higher than the debt of a woman who had an abortion after being raped.

All transgressed a grave basic Dive Law: Thou shalt not kill. However the circumstances where totally different and that is why the Mercy of God is for - to temper the Divine sentence after Divine Justice is applied.

To further clarify this matter we shall use terms that all can understand: Money!

One gets in debt "over the head" and must default on the payment of the debt. It may come to a surprise to many but: that is stealing.

Now, that "bad debt" goes to "collection" - instead of slapping the debtor in jail for theft. Terms for repayment are worked out, considering all factors, while your credit, in essence, has been suspended. Once you fulfill your restructured debt you may present yourself before the "Throne of Creditors" again - you are now "clean" and have "proven yourself" worthy of "their favor".

Before getting into inter-Faith discussions it is best to have a working knowledge of the source of the Holy Scriptures (3) and the awesome coherence that makes them stand "on its own two feet".

We are sure that you can take it from here and clarify any other areas that you want to share with your girlfriend.

(1) About Prayer and Penance - Understanding more
(2) The Mercy of God and Mercy In Action
(3) Biblical Literalism - Part I and Part II

Part 1 - The Reality of The Purgatory as reflected in The Old and New Testaments

A document to remind the faithful that Purgatory is not a literary resource, but a reality reflected in the Old and New Testaments.

Originally published in The Public Forum of The M+G+R Foundation on August 11th, 2007
Reissued as a standalone document in November 4th, 2022

The Seal of St. Michael the Archangel © Copyright 2007 - 2022 by The M+G+R Foundation. All rights reserved. However, you may freely reproduce and distribute this document as long as: (1) Appropriate credit is given as to its source; (2) No changes are made in the text without prior written consent; and (3) No charge is made for it.

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Take Up Your Cross and Follow Me! - It is the easiest possible way!

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The Mercy of God - God's Greatest Attribute

The Mercy of God - Another way of understanding it

Divine Mercy in Action - Illustrated through the plague of 1918 and the atomic bombs on Japan in 1945

About Sin - It should not be a tool of enslavement through guilt

Biblical Literalism or Symbolism? It is Both - It Just Depends on the Circumstances

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